How to say 'You're fired'

Wednesday 19 June, 2013
It's one of the toughest things to say for an employer and one of the hardest things to hear for an employee but there is a process which can be followed to make the two words easier to communicate. The most important thing for an employer to remember is that the time (weeks or months) before firing is crucial for the ease of it all. So how do you tell someone 'You're fired'? firing image 1. Before you even think of uttering the words, if an employee is not working to an established agreement or contract or is not delivering to your businesses' standard then you need to be open, clear and honest with them. As SOON as you notice a lapse in their work ethic or standards have a word with them. Let them know what your business expects of them and give them advice and feedback on how they can improve or make the appropriate changes. 2. If no improvement is noticed after this first conversation, speak to them again. At the same time ask them to make sure that they understand what the role requires of them and to consider their suitability to the position. Depending on the business this conversation may need to happen one day after or weeks after the first discussion. 3. During these two conversations it's important that you continue to offer your feedback on how they can improve their working performance. Ask them if there are any personal or interpersonal (work-related) issues that are preventing them from doing their job to the expected standard. This ensures that you are not being unfair as an employer and that the onus falls to the employee once again. 4. If the employee fails to make the necessary improvements then unfortunately it's time to start thinking about letting them go. Before this, think about the effect this will have on your business and the other employees. Make sure that you have given the employee all of the feedback and notice which you could have offered. Finally, think about the role itself, is it necessary? Perhaps the employee was underperforming because they were bored, disinterested, didn't have enough work or had too much work to do. Could you make final changes to the role before letting them go? If not, then it's time to say goodbye. 5. So how to break it to the employee? By this stage, it shouldn't be too difficult. As an employer you have followed the appropriate procedures to let the employee know that they have been underperforming. They may even expect it and want to get it over with themselves! Ask to speak to them in a private place (midday or afternoon is best as it means that the effort they have taken to actually arrive to work has not been wasted). Tell them within 30 seconds as to why you have asked them into your office: 'I've brought you into my office today because for the last few days/weeks/months you have been underperforming' or 'I've been giving you advice about how to improve your performance but from my perspective, you have not adopted these suggestions' are good starts. Don't drag out the process and don't give them the opportunity to try and give excuses. You have made your decision and it is best to be clear and direct. Use sentences such as 'I don't think this is working out for either of us but thank you for your work here up until now and I wish you the best for your future'. 6. More often than not an employee won't hold too much of a grudge. Most will actually shake your hand and thank you for the opportunity. It's a tough decision to make and an even tougher one to actually announce but in the end, letting an unproductive employee go is better for the overall health of the business. Of course, there are exemptions to this advice. In cases where an employee has demonstrated actions which call for an immediate termination, training, guidance and feedback are obviously not important. Immediate termination reasons should be outlined in a signed contract before the employee begins. Five important tips for letting someone go: 1. Don't drag out the process by asking the employee how their life/family/pets/grandparents are before the words 'You're fired' are announced 2. Allow the employee the opportunity to collect their things the next day, outside of office hours if they choose to 3. Make sure the door is closed during the firing process. You don't want your other staff members gossiping over your actions over the next week's worth of coffee breaks 4. Sometimes an employee may get upset over your decision. Have a box of tissues ready out of consideration 5. Be human. If you truly mean it, let the employee know that they have a great set of skills and personality but they're just not suited to your business Let OneShift know whether you have ever been fired and whether the employer gave you the appropriate opportunity to prove yourself before they let out the words!
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